Along with Makoto Shinkai, Masaaki Yuasa is one of the most beloved and famed directors within the western anime sphere. His works all have a very particular style to them, and his shows have enjoyed a lot of popularity in recent years. Having directed everything from sci-fi to sports and ultra violence, his library of directorial works most certainly is a varied one. All this is part of the reason for why I decided to check out just what all the fuss was about this guy, so I decided to watch one of his most popular and highly acclaimed shows: Ping Pong the Animation.
Makoto and Yutaka have played Ping Pong for a long time. However, Makoto has next to no ambition to win, and Yutaka has lost his edge due to not having had enough people to challenge him. Through circumstance and fateful encounters, the two of them change drastically as people throughout the course of the series, and meet other competitors, all with their own deep thoughts on why they persevere and continue to play. Originally broadcast in 2014 with a total of only 11 episodes, Ping Pong is adapted from award winning mangaka Taiyou Matsumoto.
The first thing that stands out about Ping Pong is the visuals. The very way the bodies of the character almost float in the air, the elastic way in which they move, coupled with the unconventional character designs all work together to create a very striking visual style. This is the aspect of his shows which often get the most attention. However, it's not entirely fair to attribute this purely to Yuasa himself, as the mangaka for Ping Pong, Taiyo Matsumoto has a very perticular style which can be seen through most of his work. I myself have only actually read 'Takemitsuzamurai', so I don't know wether his other work fit within this style, but from what I've seen of them through screenshots and such, I think it's safe to assume. For indeed, it would be quite wrong to attribute this to Yuasa, however the directing itself is most certainly very striking as well. The multitude of scenes where the screen is taken up by multiple panels, all switching between static images and animation, as well as some panels switching to other scenes entirely. This is then combined with the more wide shots of either a ping pong table, or a room. All this works together to create a very consistent and noticeable method.
The story itself seems to have touched many, although I do have to say that I did not feel the same as many have. I am by no means claiming that I dislike this show, in fact, I enjoyed it a whole lot. But it seems as Ping Pong is just another show that I will add to my list of shows that I liked, but everyone seems to think is up there as one of the greatest things ever. And I'm happy that they think so, because if they didn't I probably woudn't have checked it out either. Along with shows such as Texhnolyze, Serial Experiments Lain, Angels Egg, Welcome to the NHK, Usagi Drop and Barakamon. The character drama didn't grab me that much, is basically what I'm saying. It's not that I didn't get excited during the game, or that I thought it was boring. I just didn't think it was that interesting. I really liked Wenge, the Chinese character, because I felt as if his story was actually interesting. A star player who fell from grace, and has to play at a lower level, trying to climb back up. I did think that was cool. A lot of other stuff was just neat.
I do highly reccomend you check it out. Highly. Because everyone seems to like it a ton, just not me. I still like, but, not a ton. It's a good show and it'l give you a good time, plus something to think about. If you're into character development, character drama, and in for something short: go for it. Also, here's some links to some cool animation from the show:
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